Pevensey and Westham’s MP, Huw Merriman, has joined up with the Hastings MP to demand a solution to the situation on Southern Rail.
Mr Merriman and the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, have written a joint letter to the new Railway Minister urging the Department of Transport to encourage Govia Thameslink Railway and the RMT Union to work together to solve the current industrial dispute.
Amber commented, “I would like to congratulate Paul Maynard MP on his appointment as Rail Minister. I look forward to working with him to achieve investment in faster and higher quality local rail services. However, an immediate priority must be bringing the current disruption to an end.
“I welcome the steps taken by the new ministerial team at the Department for Transport including their meetings with the operator but I would like to see additional efforts to prevent further official and unofficial industrial action promoted by the RMT union – it is unacceptable and it has made travel unbearable for passengers over recent months.”
Huw and Amber also used their letter to request a meeting with the minister to impress upon him the importance of finding a resolution to the situation.
Huw said, “Southern rail services are now at breaking point as are its customers. The current situation is totally unacceptable, both GTR and RMT must get back around the negotiating table to resolve these issues. It frustrates me that the RMT are now stating that this dispute is all about passenger safety and not conductor jobs, which Southern have already guaranteed. Driver Only Operation ('DOO') is proven to be safe in other parts of the country where it already operates so I cannot understand the RMT’s stance on this. It is therefore essential that the Department of Transport takes a lead role in helping to resolve this dispute and demonstrates to the RMT that DOO is safe in order to restore local rail services for the sake of rail users and the local economy.”
Amber added, “I urge the RMT to completely abandon its plans for a strike next week. This will cause a great amount of completely unnecessary stress and inconvenience for passengers. The union’s stated concern over the safety implications are unfounded – ORR, the safety regulator, say DOO is perfectly safe and these trains already operate on a third of the national rail network. Also, job security has already been guaranteed to the end of the current franchise.”
Talks are due to be held with ACAS today (3 August) to try and put an end to planned strike action due to take place next week.